An aesthetic between utopia and reality : the idea of realism in Western Marxism
The aim of this thesis is to examine the idea of realism in Western Marxism through the comparative approaches of Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Jean-Paul Sartre and Fredric Jameson in relation to non-Marxist theorists such as Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault. The issue of realism suffers from the controversial terminology of realism and reality. This is the reason why realism can be better viewed by Marxist perspectives that are firmly based on the category of the subject-object dialectic. This Marxian principle, thereby pertaining to the reality existing outside of subjectivity, substantiates the issue of realism as a continuing social and aesthetic project. By focusing on the category of reality in relation to the idea of realism in Western Marxist debates, this study explores the way in which the Marxist theorists understand the relationship between culture and society, and respond to the change of socio-economic conditions in each historical moment. These various discourses revolving around the issue of realism produce a similar agenda to explain the place of the artwork in the realm of culture. Such a similarity arises from their attempt to retain the idea of realism, even when they argue for an aesthetic of anti-realism. In this respect, my thesis questions the distinction between realism and modernism in Western Marxist discourses, and argues that such differentiation had been articulated by a political intention to sever Western Marxism from Stalinism. Their idea of realism is paradoxical in the sense that their formulations of realism aspire to a utopian project. This is the very way in which their idea of realism can be grasped as another facet of their political programme.